Concerned about being considered crass or exploitive, more marketers have decided against running advertising of any kind tomorrow, whether or not it would appear during coverage commemorating the terrorist attacks.
The reluctance of many major marketers to advertise on Sept. 11 had been apparent for about a month as big spenders like Coca-Cola, General Motors, PepsiCo and Sears, Roebuck decided to take a one-day respite. Since then, other companies have joined them.
As a result, advertising will be sparser than usual in media outlets from television and radio to magazines and newspapers.
Consumers answering their telephones, visiting Web sites and looking at their e-mail messages should also notice a difference; many direct and interactive marketers are joining their traditional counterparts on the sidelines.
"Better safe than sorry," said an executive at one television network, characterizing the attitude of advertisers deciding against running commercials or underwriting coverage with few, if any, commercials.
Executives at other networks held out hope yesterday that discussions with some marketers would result in agreements to advertise or be sponsors. But each hour that passed without announcements appeared to create momentum against advertising.
The marketers taking the hiatus are offering comments much like those made yesterday by Marc Levy, a spokesman for MasterCard International in Purchase, N.Y. "We decided not to schedule anything anywhere," Mr. Levy said. "We just don't feel it's appropriate. It really doesn't fit."
In addition to suspending print ads and commercials tomorrow, Mr. Levy said, MasterCard will forgo advertising all week in USA Today, where the company usually runs an ad each weekday. Instead, MasterCard is donating the ad space, in the top right corner of the Life section, to the Salvation Army. The ad that ran yesterday carried the theme, "Some 911 calls take longer to answer."
In some instances, the one-day suspension will interrupt the introduction of campaigns or commercials. For instance, FedEx is bringing out additional spots this week in a campaign called Business Legends, which began last fall. The spots will not run tomorrow but will resume on Thursday, said Melanie Mitchem, a spokeswoman for the FedEx ad agency, the New York office of BBDO Worldwide, part of the Omnicom Group.
Marketers choosing to advertise are often companies or organizations with campaigns that feature special messages they deem relevant or related to the attacks and their aftermath. Such advertisers and sponsors will include Boeing, the New York Stock Exchange, Nextel, the United Methodist Church and the United States Postal Service.
Most marketers, however, are following the example of the Gillette Company, which decided not to be seen or heard at all. "We felt it was the most appropriate action we could take," said Eric Kraus, a spokesman for Gillette in Boston.
At the Chrysler Group division of DaimlerChrysler, corporate advertising will be suspended nationally, said James Kenyon, a spokesman in Auburn Hills, Mich. He said that Chrysler had also recommended to local dealers that they follow suit because "it's not appropriate pitching product that day."
Some car dealers, along with other local advertisers, are planning to run special tribute ads, with only their logos or names, in commemorative sections in magazines and newspapers. For instance, a section carried Sunday in The Daily News in New York included special ads from local advertisers like P. C. Richard & Son, the retailer of consumer electronics and appliances; the Key Food supermarket chain; Pace University; and three groups of local car dealers.
The Sept. 16 issue of New York magazine, published by Primedia, which offers a package of articles under the banner "One Year Later," is carrying special ads from advertisers like the Bloomingdale's and Macy's retail chains, owned by Federated Department Stores; the Regent Wall Street Hotel, carrying the theme, "Standing strong, moving forward"; and the Lord & Taylor retail chain, owned by the May Department Stores Company. Primedia and New York also ran a special ad, carrying the theme, "With sorrow. With pride. With hope."
On the direct marketing front, the industry trade organization, the Direct Marketing Association, is recommending that members refrain from telemarketing calls or marketing by e-mail tomorrow, as well as try to arrange for conventional marketing mail to be delivered either before or after tomorrow.
"The response has been quite gratifying," said H. Robert Wientzen, chief executive at the association in New York. "There has been pretty unanimous agreement by our members to avoid e-mail or telemarketing on the 11th."
"People feel that's the right thing to do," Mr. Wientzen added, because they "are frankly at a loss to come up with things that would not be construed as commercial."
That is not to say there will be no efforts made in what could be called the selling of Sept. 11.
For example, coupon inserts in major newspapers on the last two Sundays included offers from the Hamilton Collection for "My Brother, My Nation," a six-inch teddy bear dressed like a firefighter and carrying an American flag; from a company called Eden Lane for "officially licensed" merchandise bearing designs related to Sept. 11, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs and "natural canvas" tote bags; and from an unidentified advertiser offering "gifts in remembrance of our heroes," which include flag-bedecked pins, key chains and money clips, available "free!"*
The inevitable footnote reveals that "$4.97 per item covers all shipping and handling."
Stuart Elliott, The New York Times. September 10, 2002
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